Food trends tend to be a tad on the heavy-handed side. Usually they simply involve smashing one unhealthy food with another food and calling it “genius.” Or, they attempt to revamp the image of otherwise boring health food (lookin’ right at you, kale).
Recently, however, a new(ish) food trend has emerged, and I feel it is my duty to call it out for its nonsense: the phenomenon is the “unicorn”-ification of every possible pastry, drink, and dessert on my Instagram timeline — and I’m here to tell you that everybody needs to take it down a notch.
The fad essentially involves transforming an otherwise perfectly acceptable food item into a technicolor rainbow, possibly adding sprinkles or glitter, and deeming it a “unicorn.”
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen the snapshots.
There’s unicorn toast …
… unicorn bagels …
… unicorn cakes …
… and, of course, unicorn frappuccinos.
There are multiple baffling dilemmas entangled in this food trend, which include, but are not limited to:
1. There is nothing inherently “rainbow” about unicorns. Look, not to geek out on you, but the mythology surrounding unicorns never actually mentions a requisite pastel color scheme. In fact, the only thing that makes a unicorn a “unicorn” is — you guessed it — a singular horn. Unless I seriously missed some bit of their alleged origin story, unicorns do not have rainbows shooting out of their anuses, and they do not fart glitter. (Also, they are not real, but that is BESIDE THE POINT.)
2. Also, the whole unicorn mythology is kind of creepy. While I’m ruining things for you, I might as well remind you that unicorns, according to folklore, can only be tamed by virgins. This “fact,” coupled with the presence of the creature’s single phallic horn … well, it doesn’t take a Freudian analysis to see where that story is going. (I’m taking major liberties here by asserting that this is creepy, but COME ON, GUYS.)
3. This trend has absolutely been appropriated by corporate brands. Honey, once Starbucks has caught on to the fact that something is “cool,” the thing in question has officially lost its cool. Even if dubbing rainbow edibles as “unicorn food” was ever trendy, the birth of the Unicorn Frappuccino was pretty much the final nail in the unicorn coffin.
4. The term “unicorn” denotes some kind of singularity or uniqueness. If you say that you are a “unicorn,” that means that you are somehow special, or an anomaly in some way. So, answer me this: how can the term “unicorn” still have this distinctive meaning if we are willing to slap it on any food that happens to bear multiple neon colors? Is a “unicorn” no longer unique? Are we robbing language of all of its meaning?? (Yes, the answer has always been “yes.”)
Look, I get it — the pastel color scheme inherent to “unicorn” food is adorable and aesthetically pleasing. I am not suggesting that we do away with fun, colorful food. (I’m not a complete monster.)
But, perhaps we can simply call it “rainbow toast” and be done with it?